Leo is widely recognised as one of London's leading tenor saxophonists, best known for his honest, straight-ahead, contemporary hard-bop style. His influences include John Coltrane, Joe Henderson, Dexter Gordon, Horace Silver and Art Blakey. Some of Leo’s notable performance and recording credits include Kylie Minogue, Jamie Cullum, Gregory Porter, TLC, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Ronnie Scott's Jazz Orchestra, Joe Sanders, Willie Jones III, Dan Nimmer and Norma Winstone.
In 2017, The Leo Richardson Quartet toured in support of their debut album, 'The Chase', on Ubuntu Music, which earned some exceptional reviews, including the first ever 5-Star Review for a debut album from the UK Guardian/Observer Sunday Newspaper. The album was selected by The Times newspaper as one of the top ten jazz albums of 2017 and one of the top 100 albums of all music genres. ‘Move’, Leo’s next Quartet album, is due for release in Summer 2019.
In 2009, Leo was awarded a scholarship to study Jazz at the prestigious Trinity College of Music. Whilst at Trinity, Leo studied with world-class saxophonists including Jean Toussaint, Julian Siegel, Martin Speake, Mark Lockheart and Mick Foster. In 2012, Leo was awarded the Trinity College of Music Jazz Achievement Award and in 2013 graduated with a 1st class honours degree in Jazz Performance. He was also a Worshipful Company of Musicians Young Jazz Musician of the Year finalist in 2016.
Since graduating, Leo has been making a name for himself on the UK Jazz scene. He has become an in-demand sideman and has collaborated with many well-known musicians at acclaimed venues such as Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, The Royal Albert Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, O2 Arena, Cadogan Hall, The Vortex Jazz Club and Glastonbury Music Festival. In 2015, Leo was nominated in the London Music Awards for Rising Star in the Jazz category. He regularly hosts the ‘Late Late Show’ at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club with his own quartet.
Leo’s quartet consists of killer artists who are all standouts in their own right. Rick Simpson, winner of the Yamaha Scholarship Prize for Outstanding Jazz Musicians on piano, Mark Lewandowski, one of the most sought-after young musicians of his generation on bass, and the exceedingly diverse drummer Ed Richardson.
Leo Richardson (tenor sax), Rick Simpson (piano), Mark Lewandowski (bass), Ed Richardson (drums).
Since their formation in 2007, the multi award-winning quartet Empirical have steadfastly maintained their position as one of the UK’s most exciting jazz ensembles. Empirical’s rare instrumentation has proved the perfect vehicle for the band’s invariably complex compositions and distinctive signature sound.
Empirical have released five critically acclaimed studio albums to date and have featured at major jazz festivals including North Sea Jazz, Jazz a la Villette, Jazz sous les Pommiers, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Newport, New York, Molde, Nisville, Bremen, Muenster and Berlin, Manchester, Cheltenham and London jazz festivals. They are two-time recipients of the UK Parliamentary Jazz Award (2008 and 2016 ‘Best Jazz Ensemble’) and won the 2016 Urban Music Award and the 2010 MOBO Award for ‘Best Jazz Act’. In 2007, Empirical were the winners of the EBU/European Jazz Competition.
In keeping with their risk-taking approach to music-making, in 2016 the quartet embarked on a daring exercise in audience creation with their ‘Pop-up Jazz Lounge’ residency project, which has seen the band turn disused shops in train stations and shopping malls in London, Berlin, Birmingham and Cheltenham into fully-fledged jazz clubs, for a week at a time. Since then, the band has played to more than 10,000 appreciative commuters and shoppers, racking up over 150 live sets in the process.
For Empirical, this kind of gigging marathon is a much-relished opportunity to develop new musical ideas during live performance, such as their latest two-part EP set. Entitled Indifference Culture and Distraction Tactics, the recordings form a musical response to the culture wars and political upheaval that have become the ‘new normal’ and capture to the greatest degree yet the exhilarating intensity and exceptional virtuosity that Empirical’s performances have become known for.
“Empirical are among the most admired and individual-sounding bands in contemporary jazz. Much of this is down to the instrumentation, which has the lightness and clarity to convey quite adventurous ideas without losing the listener along the way.” - The Observer
Nathaniel Facey (alto sax), Tom Farmer (double bass), Lewis Wright (vibraphone), Shaney Forbes (drums)
Kit Downes is a BBC Jazz Award-winning, Mercury Music Award nominated, solo recording artist for ECM Records who has toured the world with groups such as Squarepusher, Troyka, Empirical and Nostalgia 77, as well collaborative projects ‘ENEMY’, ‘Vyamanikal’ and duo projects with Lucy Railton and Aidan O’Rourke. In 2013 and 2015 he was nominated in the 'Rising Star' category in Downbeat Magazine (in piano and organ categories), and in 2014 won the 'Best Album Award' at the UK’s Parliamentary Jazz Awards.
“Obsidian” is a collection of Kit Downes’ solo organ works from the eponymous album released on ECM Records in 2018. It is a musical response to volcanicity, slow processes that cause extreme reactions. A mixture of written and semi-scored/semi-improvised pieces, it focuses on the nuances and unique features of both smaller chamber organs local to rural Suffolk as well as larger grander instruments from bigger cities around the UK. It is both a study of extended techniques from instruments sometimes in states of disrepair, and a connection and adaptation of the improvised tradition of the instrument, exploring themes of duration, vibration and mechanics.
Kit has toured this music throughout Europe - from the Elb Philharmonie in Hamburg, to the Southbank Centre in London (where he was commissioned to write a new work for the opening festival of the refurbished Royal Festival Hall Organ), to Rewire Festival in Den Haag and the Brussels Jazz Festival.
At the age of 12, Kit was an organ scholar in Norwich (St. Peter Mancroft) as well as playing at the Cathedral (where he was a chorister), before he started studying piano and organ at the Purcell Music School - studying organ under David Dunnet and Katherine Dienes-Williams. He later went on to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London, (where he is now a tutor and Associate).
“Kit Downes showed his considerable chops and flowing imagination as a pipe organist” - Downbeat Magazine
"A richly layered, moving soundscape with regular dark, whispering undercurrents - building with unbelievable tension" - All About Jazz
Kit Downes (Christ Church organ).
ENEMY is the vital trio featuring bassist Frans Petter Eldh, pianist Kit Downes and drummer James Maddren. Described as ‘fiercely intense’and ‘beautifully intricate’, their eponymously titled debut spotlights three brilliant and creative musical minds committed to the exploration of new worlds of performance and music: total music, with each musician contributing equally in an authentic aesthetic display.
As the band explains: "ENEMY is about intensity and complexity - negotiations of cryptic rhythms and wonky beats with light speed intensity and high energy - our music combines in a storm of density and wild freedom, which we write to deliberately push each other to our limits - both creatively and technically."
Each member of ENEMY has achieved personal recognition in the jazz and wider music world (including a Mercury Music Award Nomination, ECHO Jazz nomination, multiple Downbeat Critics Poll nominations and a BBC Jazz Award). The album is produced by bassist Eldh who’s previous production credits include remixes for Jameszoo - Flake (Brainfeeder) & Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra - Vula, to name a few of his collaborations.
"Enemy is a delight in its’ intersection of artistry and technicality, but it’s more brilliant in its authenticity." - Downbeat
“Rip-roaring groove, mind-boggling polyrhythmic drumming, snapping physicality and sweeping piano runs from brittle street grooves”.– The Guardian****
Frans Petter Eldh (bass), Kit Downes (piano), James Maddren (drums).
TRISH CLOWES 'MY IRIS' - TUESDAY 25th JUNE
Saxophonist Trish Clowes has been described as ‘one of the most agile and original jugglers of improv and adventurous composition to have appeared in the UK in recent times’(John Fordham, the Guardian). A BASCA British Composer Award winner and former BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist, Clowes has received critical acclaim for all four of her releases for Basho Records. Inspired by Joe Henderson and Wayne Shorter, Clowes explores contrasts between lush beauty and edginess, light and dark. She has also explored multiphonics and extended techniques in her saxophone playing.
Clowes’ My Iris quartet has been described as ‘the jazz of the future’ (Augsburger Allgemeine) and ‘the front rank of the new generation of UK jazz’ (Cormac Larkin, Irish Times). Clowes provides her bandmates with a unique platform for individual expression, delivering driving grooves and memorable melodic lines, morphing between intensity and futuristic dreamscapes.
Launching her new album ‘Ninety Degrees Gravity’, Clowes has recently been inspired by the idea of a universal language and the powerful images in Denis Villeneuve’s film ‘Arrival’. Exploring the ongoing moments of revelation in the life of a musician and contemplating the vastness of the cosmos, Trish Clowes and My Iris create compelling and vivid atmospheres.
“This is British Jazz at its best...I assure you she is a great, great talent.” - Jamie Cullum
Trish Clowes (saxophones/vocals), Chris Montague (guitar), Ross Stanley: (piano/Hammond Organ), James Maddren (drums)
Multi-award winning vocalist Ian Shaw returns to the Made In The UK series with a solo show featuring arrangements of songs from his last two albums, ‘The Theory Of Joy’ and ‘Shine Sister Shine’ (Jazz Village), including compositions by Joni Mitchell, Michel Legrand, Peggy Lee, Janice Ian, David Bowie, Carly Simon, Bob Dorough and Alicia Keyes, alongside Ian's own originals.
Ian won best jazz vocalist at the 2004 & 2007 BBC Jazz Awards and 2018 Parliamentary Jazz Awards, alongside nominations from the Jazz FM Awards 2013 and Downbeat Magazine 2017. He has 15 studio albums to his name in a career spanning three decades, and is a popular performer both in the UK and the US, being cited, along with Mark Murphy and Kurt Elling, as one of the world’s finest male jazz vocalists. He is also a talented pianist, songwriter, presenter, record producer and actor. A regular at London venues such as Ronnie Scott’s, Shaw also tours theatres, arts centres and major jazz festivals across the UK. He has performed at numerous venues in the US including Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, and three of his recordings are on US labels. Ian is a frequent visitor to Canada, as a result of regular airplay on the Toronto-based Jazz.FM91 and has toured Australia and the Far East several times. He plays festivals and club dates on the Continent of Europe throughout each year.
Alongside solo shows and performances with his regular piano trio, Shaw is also much in demand as the featured soloist with big bands and orchestras, both in the UK and internationally. His many collaborators over the years include Quincy Jones, Abdullah Ibrahim, Kurt Elling, Guy Barker, Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor, Iain Ballamy, Mornington Lockett, Cleo Laine, John Dankworth, Mark Murphy, Cedar Walton, Joe Lovano and Joe Beck.
Ian presents The Ronnie Scott’s Radio Show weekly for Jazz FM in the UK. This show is syndicated worldwide including to Rochester’s Jazz90.1, and is also to be heard on British Airways long haul.
"…a brilliant vocal chameleon . . . there’s actually more heart in Ian Shaw’s cleverness than in many singers who wear their hearts conspicuously on their sleeves" - Ivan Hewitt, Telegraph
Ian Shaw (vocals & piano).
Elda trio is a project comprised of London-based award winning Swedish vocalist, Emilia Mårtensson (‘Vocalist of the Year 2016’ at TheParliamentary Jazz Awards), Slovenian accordion player and multi instrumentalist Janez Dovč and Sao Paulo-bornBrazilian percussionist and composer, Adriano Adewale. Elda trio weaves together these three different folkloric cultures exploring the breadth and depth of storytelling and music from each country. What emerges is a fascinating tapestry of musical cultures, featuring both traditional and contemporary musical elements in a unique way.
All three musicians of Elda Trio are virtuosos in their own right and they have all found an original voice on their respective instruments, combining a modern approach with the use of electronics together with a more traditional approach and use of traditional instruments.
The element of improvisation is a fundamental aspect of Elda Trio’s music, enabling the group to express themselves freely, taking into consideration the very moment of the performance and making every single concert exciting and unique.
Their debut album ‘ELDA’, (released on London based ‘Two Rivers Records’ in September 2016), celebrates the beauty and importance of exploring and merging cultures and sharing stories that are universally relatable.
Emilia Mårtensson (vocals), Janez Dovč (accordion), Adriano Adewale (percussion).
NUBYA GARCIA - FRIDAY 28th JUNE
This performance will take place at City of Rochester Jazz Street stage at 7.30pm & 9.30pm
London-based saxophonist and composer, Nubya Garcia, is one of the leading forces behind the resurgence of jazz-influenced sounds in the UK. Raised in a creative environment built by a set of Caribbean parents, her brand of afro-tinged Jazz has made her a key component in a string of new and established groups: from work with MOBO Award-winning drummer, Moses Boyd, legendary Jungle producer and toaster, Congo Natty, through to her own works as part of six-piece, Maisha, and the Nérija septet.
Nubya fearlessly threw herself head first into this 5ive project, her debut recording, with a clear vision of what she wanted and was meticulous in her pursuit of her sound. Enlisting the help of fellow musical comrades from an exciting new wave of London based talent, Nubya tapped into well-seasoned, harmonious relationships with players that know and understand her – and this joyful union radiates through her compositions.
Championed by the likes of Gilles Peterson, Jazz FM and Jazz re:freshed, Garcia had an electric start to 2018. She was in SXSW to perform at Jazz re:freshed and British Underground’s OUTERNATIONAL showcase in March at Main II in Austin TX, joining a world-class line up of emerging UK jazz artists including Ezra Collective, Blue Lab Beats and Zara McFarlane. In the last two years, she has also played the Other Futures Festival in Amsterdam, and New York’s Winter Jazz Fest in partnership with the PRS Foundation and BBC Introducing. 2018 also saw her at Outlook, Field Day, Love Supreme and many other stages worldwide. She also played sell out shows in Brazil, following lauded appearances at the Singapore Jazz Festival, Afropunk, Worldwide Festival and shows across the UK, including Ronnie Scott’s.
Garcia is a graduate of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. She began playing with the local Camden Music Service, before moving to the Royal Academy Junior Jazz course, and Tomorrow’s Warriors.
“Brilliant, brilliant saxophonist... creating a lot of waves” Gilles Peterson
KANSAS SMITTY'S HOUSE BAND - FRIDAY 28th & SATURDAY 29th JUNE
Performances at will take place at GEVA Theatre (28th June 5.30pm & 7.30pm) & Kilbourn Hall (29th June 6pm & 9pm)
From the moment they played their first note five years ago, the Kansas Smitty's House Band has set out to reinvent how audiences experience jazz. You’ll never hear Kansas Smitty’s House Band play the same show twice. Theirs is a tight-knit, joyful, spontaneous jazz rooted in swing and blues that keeps the shows fresh and the crowds faithful.
Recently described by Jamie Cullum as ‘one of the hottest live acts on the UK jazz scene’, the band originally began in 2014 as resident musicians of London’s hippest jazz bar, Kansas Smitty’s. As the bar grew, so too did the Band’s fame: residencies at Cheltenham Jazz Festival, twice-sold-out headliners at London’s iconic Ronnie Scott’s, as well as the acclaimed release ‘Broadway 2018’ culminated in a nomination for ‘UK Jazz Act of the Year’ in the Jazz FM Awards, and a win at the British Jazz Awards for ‘Best Small Group’ in 2018.
That same year, members of the House Band appeared at the Royal Albert Hall, Barbican, Friday Night is Music Night, Boileroom and The Rose Hall at Jazz at Lincoln Centre at the request of Wynton Marsalis.
The Kansas Smitty's House Band are relentlessly pursuing a new sound, with a collaborative approach to writing and rehearsing and a vast range of inspiration. The band’s ethos is to craft original, modern and compelling music that brings audiences in.
'They dance to the beat of their own drum. Totally unpredictable!'- Cerys Matthews/BBC Radio 6
“One of the hottest properties in British jazz”-Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph
Giacomo Smith (alto saxophone), Alec Harper (tenor saxophone), Pete Horsfall (trumpet), Dave Archer (guitar), Joe Webb (piano), Ferg Ireland (double bass), Will Cleasby (drums).
Irish born vocalist and composer Christine Tobin is renowned for her unique rich voice and original compositional style. She recently relocated to New York, having forged a name for herself in the London jazz world where she lived for many years. As a leader, she’s recorded eleven highly acclaimed CDs and won four major awards. Her expressive range acknowledges finely acquired folk, jazz and 20th century classical influences and the Guardian described her sound as 'Tobin’s 24 carat voice’. She can be junkyard blues philosopher, or snappy beat seductress, a conduit for exquisite zen-like harmonies, or reflective Americana. In 2012 ‘Sailing to Byzantium’, her settings of WB Yeats poems, won a British Composer Award. The following year she won a ‘Herald Angel Award’ at Edinburgh Festival for her show ‘A Thousand Kisses Deep’, her imaginative versions of Leonard Cohen classics. In 2014 she won ‘Jazz Vocalist of the Year’ at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards and earlier in her career ‘Best Vocalist’ at the 2008 BBC Jazz Awards.
Since moving to NYC Christine has created her own multi-media and themed jazz series, ’Tobin’s Run on 51’, which she and partner guitarist Phil Robson curate at the Irish Arts Center in Hell’s Kitchen. Their guests have included Steve Wilson, Ingrid Jensen, Peter Washington, Kate McGarry, Dayna Stephens and James Genus.
“There’s a thrilling, dark timbre to Tobin’s voice that moves you like no other singer." -The Guardian
Christine Tobin (voice), Phil Robson (guitar), Mark Lewandowski (double bass)